Untold story of Akpabio’s defection


Wednesday, August 8, 2018, was no ordinary day for the All Progressives Congress (APC) and in particular the people of Ikot Ekpene in Akwa Ibom state.
A massive crowd had gathered to witness an uncommon change from one political platform to another.
The change, to the say the least, was never thought possible considering the utterances and antecedents of the central figure, Godswill Obot Akpabio, the second democratically elected governor of the state, from 2007 to 2015.
PATRICK ANDREW and EZREL TABIOWO write.
On that day, Akpabio, the former chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum, dropped the umbrella for the broom in a move that petrified, shocked, and indeed defied all predictions about the invincibility of the PDP in the Annang land.
He defected, yes, dismantled the umbrella and chose to take shelter under the broom.
Two years earlier that would have an unimaginable taboo, a wishful thinking by just a handful of APC loyalists in the state, as the ruling party despite some big names was largely seen as non-existent.
Not anymore! Akpabio as governor Perhaps no other governor had affected Akwa Ibom the manner Godswill Obot Akpabio did.
Suffice to say, Dr.
Clement Isong, the late CBN Governor had stood like colossus until the advent of Akpabio.
To some, the two terms former governor of Akwa Ibom state, Godswill Akpabio, is a maverick politician.
He bestrode the political tripod of Akwa Ibom in ways no other had.
His uncommon transformation slogan resonated with the people, who dwarfed by his proclivity towards altering the infrastructural complexity of the state, genuflected in awe of his personality.
He swore that the infamous association of Akwa Ibom youths with disrepute job of house-help would be a thing of the past with his uncommon transform project.
With massive construction comes huge employment opportunities and the househelp syndrome gradually faded.
He made education free from primary to secondary school and the people whose love for education dates back to the earliest days of the colonial masters soaked it up like sponge.
Akpabio’s many sins It is one thing for a person to be egoistic, despotic and belligerent; it is entirely a different issue when one becomes dictatorial, insists on being the only cock to crow and openly and tacitly ensure that other cocks are driven to oblivion.
So, within the local scene, Akpabio allegedly made enemies of those that desired to attain some status without having to bow to Akapbio.
Chief Don Etiebet, a renowned member of the NPN, was fed with this arrogance and impunity.
Trust him; he opted out of the PDP to have his peace.
Though his travails had started when Governor Victor Attah held the reins of power, Akpabio’s ensured that that relationship was not restored and Etiebet kept in the cooler.
Attack on Jonathan Following the sudden demise of President Umar Musa Yar’Adua, Akpabio, then a first-term governor, allegedly opposed the emergence of Acting President Goodluck Jonathan as the substantive president.
Governor Godswill Akpabio in concert with other governors of the Niger Delta constituted a stumbling block when, by divine intervention, through the doctrine of necessity, Jonathan emerged as the Acting President.
A petition signed by the Convener o the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (COHRD), Inibehe Effiong, alleged, among others, that the governor had, in coalition with other colleagues and key elements from the North, actively opposed the ascendency of Jonathan.
Warning President Jonathan against the antics of Akpabio, the petitioners said: Mr.
President, sir, in the same way he hobnobbed with the immediate past First Lady to work against the interest of Nigeria, Akpabio is using your wife in a very negative campaign against our people in Akwa Ibom state.
Similarly, Akpabio stretched his dislike for President Jonathan when he bluntly dismissed Jonathan’s removal of oil subsidy by openly indicting the federal administration saying that Nigeria did not need subsidy removal but meaningful development such as he was providing in Akwa Ibom State.
In a Getapo fashion, Akpabio ordered the siege on the office of the Secretary to the State Government, Obong Umana Okon Umana, and changed all the locks without announcing his sack.
Like what happened recently at the National Assembly, heavily armed police men had used security vehicles to block the entrance to Umana’s office in Uyo.
The policemen also, checked the hand bags of staff of the office of the Secretary to the State Government, and then ordered them to leave.
The only reason for the alleged dastardly act was Umana’s decision to contest the 2015 gubernatorial poll and he was eventually forced out of the PDP.
The same fate waited his deputy, Chief Ekere Nsima, who was forced to resign just because he harboured the ambition of replacing Akpabio.
They were all forced to exit the party, according a ranking lawmaker in the House of Assembly who does not want to mentioned “because Akpabio drags being opposed, he wants to be the only leader and dreads being seeing in the shadows of others.” “As governor he ensured every party member queued behind him.
He dictated the pace, controls the structure and imposed whoever he wanted.
He tolerated no rivalry and hardly allowed a foot breadth of leadership out of his sight,” the two-term legislator said.
Akpabio and EFCC Akpabio, who has been under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly diverting state funds while serving as Governor between 2007 and 2015, some say, may have come under severe pressure to dump the PDP in a bid to win the sympathy of the Buhari-led administration.
The former Minority Leader of the Senate is under probe for alleged diversion of public funds and corrupt practices reported to the EFCC.
Akpabio was also alleged to have diverted N108.1 billion state funds; in 2013, it was alleged that he paid N566, 883, 728.66, N441, 808,081.90 and N392, 631,943.37 as gifts to a new generation bank.
Ekpenyong, in his petition to the antigraft agency claimed that Akpabio allegedl devised a means of enriching himself at the expense of the state.
Other petitioners’ names were not disclosed by the anti-graft agency “following intimidation and threats to their lives”.
The allegations against Akpabio border on award of bogus contracts to cronies who used the proceeds to buy several properties in Lagos and Abuja.
The allegations include: Alleged withdrawal of N18 billion fraudulently from the state’s Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) in tranches of N10 million and above in a surreptitious manner to conceal their dishonest intention; spending of over N50 billion state funds by the former governor during the last general elections; and alleged; withdrawal of N18 billion from the state’s coffers under the guise of special services, reception of very important guests and sundry items.
The ex-governor is also under probe for allegedly acquiring some assets through surrogates, including a multi-billion naira mansion at Plot 5, Ikogosi Spring Close, off Katsina-Ala Crescent, Maitama-Abuja; a multi-billion naira mansion at Plot 28 Colorado Close, Maitama, Abuja; 22 Probyn Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; Plot 23 Olusegun Aina Street, Parkview, Lagos and a multi-billion naira 25-storey building at Akin Adesola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Akpabio’s grievance with PDP Investigations by our reporter revealed that the defection of former minority leader of the Senate was partly owing to grievances harboured by the lawmaker against his former party, the opposition PDP.
According to sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Akpabio was angered by the refusal of the PDP to reward him for his role in keeping the party afloat after it lost the 2015 general elections which produced the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
Our source also revealed that Akpabio was interested in running as Vice President under the platform of the party.
Investigations by our reporter unearthed a shocking discovery that almost a month ago before his defection, the lawmaker in a meeting with one of the foremost Presidential Aspirants of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, had knelt down before the latter pleading to be accepted to contest as his Vice President.
Atiku, it was gathered, refused to make a commitment to Akpabio’s plea, a development which was in part responsible for his disaffection for the opposition party.
Atiku loyalists, particularly some Senators, had objected to the choice of Akpabio as his Vice President, arguing that he was already rewarded in the lifetime of the 8th Senate following his nomination as Minority Leader against the tradition of the upper chamber, and consensus of some lawmakers who felt same was inappropriate given that he is a first time Senator.
The position of Atiku’s loyalists against his Vice Presidential ambition, which apparently didn’t o down well with Akpabio, became a factor which led him to pitch his tent with the APC.
Betrayal Another factor which was responsible for the decision by the lawmaker to jump ship from PDP, our source disclosed, is the revelation stumbled upon by some PDP senators in his covert role in destabilising the leadership of the Senate as presently constituted under Saraki.
According to our source, the former minority leader was actively involved in the orchestrated plot which recently led to the invasion of the Deputy Senate President’s Apo residence and the invitation of Senate President Saraki by the police on the same day.
Our source said the former minority leader was part of those who came up with the script in concert with Pro-Buhari lawmakers in the APC to effect leadership change in the upper chamber of the National Assembly.
Following the failure of the plot, Senator Akpabio out reporter learnt, came under fire the same day at the residence of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, where he was lambasted by another very vocal lawmaker belonging to the Pro-Saraki group.
Akpabio who realised the game was up, our reporter was told, struggled to keep up performance what was left of his battered reputation by constantly asking the vocal Senator: “Who are you talking to that way, am I your mate?” The shocking discovery of betrayal, our source added, led Senators belonging to the PDP to keep Akpabio out of their circle of communion, a development which forced him to seek refuge in the APC fold.
Disparaged integrity Positing the posture and character of an impeccable nationalist, Akpabio had during his defection speech: “We need to collaborate with others.
I consulted.
What I have done today is to take the people of the South-South to the centre.
“Whatever I do is in the interest of of Akwa Ibom.
I want to leave a legacy in the national interest.
With my exit, this is the end of PDP in Niger Delta Delta.
However, members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Akwa Ibom state, under the aegis of Akwa Ibom Progressives Watch, painfully discountenance Akpabio’s stance.
In a letter, signed by Innocent Sylvanus, Chairman and Ubong Victor, Secretary, the group said: “Our group is an integrity watch team whose support for the APC is driven by the party’s change agenda, the fight against corruption as well as the near immaculate personality of the leader of the Party, President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We metamorphosed from Ibom Transparency Watch under the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), working assiduously in the last seven years to entrench in the party sterling values, such as integrity, justice, accountability and transparency, which are lacking in our political system.
“Hence, we have been on the watch so that such persons with tendencies which violate these values are not found tip-toeing around our party.
“For this reason, we feel sad, so are most members of the APC in Akwa Ibom State who looked up to our party as institution that will evict moral pervers as Senator Godswill Akpabio from position of authority, by the admission of Senator Godswill Akpabio into our party.
“Senator Akpabio who is now seeking asylum in the APC called our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, very unprintable names during the 2015 electioneering.
“He ordered the immediate closure of the Ibom Airport on the day Buhari, who was then the presidential flag – bearer of our party visited Akwa Ibom State.
“After our President won the 2015 election despite all their antics, Akpabio encouraged former President Goodluck Jonathan to challenge Buhari’s election victory in court.” The group also informed Oshiomhole that Akpabio polarised ethnicity to its zenith in his bid to annihilate the Ibibio majority, and destroy the Oro ethnic nationality, when he was governor of Akwa Ibom State.
However, the 55-year-old former governor alleged that the PDP of today has no vision and the leadership is replete with arrogance.
“I decided to join the APC at this time because I am a nationalist.
In times like this, everybody should support to bring peace to our dear nation; to stop the killings and ensure employment for our teeming youths.
“With my declaration, uncommon change has come to Akwa Ibom.
We believe that South-south cannot stand alone on its own,” he said.
PDP reacts The state chapter of the party has bided him farewell.
The state chapter directed the ward Chairman of Ukana West 2 and other wards to delete the name of Senator Akpabio and others who defected with him to the APC from the registers of the party.
Besides, the party has also resolved to commence legal action to activate the provision of section 68 of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria (1999 as amended) as it relates to the erring legislators.
In a statement issued by the State Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ini Ememobong, titled “Good bye Sen.
Godswill Akpabio,” it urged the respective ward chairmen to delist also those Akpabio showcased as co-defectors.
“The Speaker and other 24 members of the Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly are intact, leaving him with the two members whom he introduced on that stage, while the members of the National Assembly are intact except, the senator’s representative and one other Member of the House of Representatives, both of whom are having very heavy return challenges in their constituencies.
“Nigerians are watching keenly to see how the actions of the defectors will match their defection sermon.
But did we hear Senator Akpabio well? When he mentioned Tropicana? We hereby demand that Senator Ben Bruce accept the challenge thrown by the former Senate Minority leader to either complete the Ibom Tropicana or give reasons why it cannot be completed, in addition to why it took so long.
“We live in very interesting times and our political scene has become a huge theatre.
We are watching the dramatis personae and will be glad to play back today, many years into the future.”



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